|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|March 8th, 2009|
|TD Banknorth Garden|
|FSN Florida HD|
|Rafer Alston||PG||Stephon Marbury|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Ray Allen|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Paul Pierce|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Glen Davis|
|Dwight Howard||C||Kendrick Perkins|
|December 1st: Celtics 107, Magic 88|
|January 22nd: Celtics 90, Magic 80|
Apart from their three-game winning streak, about the only thing the Orlando Magic have going for them in this afternoon's contest with the Boston Celtics is that Boston's best player, Kevin Garnett, is out due to a strained right knee. If the Magic want to extend that win streak, they can't count on rallying in the fourth quarter as they have in the past three games. Even if they manage to hold a lead through the first three quarters, it won't be safe. Boston is 8-5 when trailing after three quarters, the only plus-.500 mark in the league. What, did you expect anything less from the defending champions?
One point of particular concern for Orlando this afternoon is its inability to force turnovers; the Magic are 26th in the league in defensive turnover rate, forcing miscues on 14.1% of its opponent's possessions. Teams need not force turnovers to have great defenses--Detroit and San Antonio are top-five defensively, and they force fewer turnovers than Orlando--but against Boston, it's a problem. As CelticsHub notes, the Celtics are nigh-unstoppable when they don't turn it over. In the Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce era, Boston is 27-3 when it commits 11 turnovers or fewer. For the record, Orlando has forced 11 turnovers or fewer in 54 games since Stan Van Gundy and Rashard Lewis came aboard.
So the Magic need to be more active in the passing lanes than they usually are today against a turnover-prone team. That's obviously much easier said than done. If they can't force turnovers, I'm not exactly sure how they'll win. Paul Pierce is a guy who always seems to go off against the Magic, and he's really lit-up Hedo Turkoglu of late. Rashard Lewis usually has a quickness advantage against opposing power forwards, but that advantage will be even more pronounced today against Glen Davis, whom the Celtics charitably list at 289 pounds. Then again, the Celtics' interior defense is so strong--ask Dwight Howard--and (arguably) so dirty--ask Jason Maxiell, Anderson Varejao, or Tom Ziller--that it might behoove Lewis to hoist three-pointers all day.
For whatever reason, this 1 PM Sunday matinee is not nationally televised. David Steele and Matt Guokas, as always, will have the call for FSN Florida, which is broadcasting the game in high definition. A Magic win today, however improbable, would go a long way toward boosting their confidence, and would still give them a chance of tying the season-series with Boston instead of losing it outright; they meet once more after today. Go Magic.